One of the biggest secrets in pop music are the Head brothers, Mick & John. Once of the Pale Fountains, whose album Across The Kitchen Table is one of the great lost 80s albums, then of Shack, the Liverpudlian siblings write the kind of retro 60s influenced tunes you feel Noel Gallagher would have killed to compose. Musically they call to mind the mellower side of Oasis or the Stone Roses circa Made Of Stone, a joyous melancholy mix of 1966-67 sounds, Beatles, Love, Simon & Garfunkel and the like. Only they are much, much better in my mind than the Roses or Oasis ever were.
One of the reasons always given for their lack of success is Mick Head’s struggles over the years with addiction, and it’s a shadow over much of Shack’s output. But at this point in their career, 1999, the album this song Comedy came from, HMS Fable, is a remarkably vibrant and joyous album. It is tinged with melancholy, only sad in a natural way kind of music but it’s uplifting. It’s like waking up after a bad time of your life to realise you feel ok for the first time in weeks; it’s almost a guilty pleasure.
Comedy is currently one of those songs that I want to tell everybody about, it’s been a quiet favourite for a long time, but this week it feels like I’ve only just discovered it. That’s the great thing about music – if it catches you on the right day, in the right mood it’s something new that previously was familiar, it’s something powerful to blow away the cobwebs, it’s falling in love with somebody you’ve been in love with for twenty years.
If you like this you will be guaranteed to like everything else they’ve done. And if you don’t own anything by Shack (or mid 90s slight offshoot The Strands) then you should remedy that as soon as you can.